Aussies shine while Europe demonstrates their position as one of music’s biggest players at The Great Escape

The Great Escape wound up for another year overnight, with the beating heart of Brighton’s cultural district and city surrounds hosting one final night of eclectic and diverse live music. Over Friday and Saturday’s program, we were exposed to music from some intriguing artists out of Europe who left a remarkable impression upon us – Iceland is where you need to be training your focus, was one lesson learned.

From Scottish rock to French new-wave and electro music, there was much to absorb from the European market who had representatives posting up in Brighton and showcasing their wares. Of course, the Alternative Escape program offered delegates and wristband wearers to opportunity to veer slightly off the beaten track of the official program and immerse themselves in some awesome music that perhaps, otherwise, would have gone under the radio. With the likes of Vels TrioSit Down and The Pearl Hearts at The White Rabbit, for example, we were challenged, entertained and had our heads turned.

Saturday belonged largely to the Australians, with the Sounds Australia Aussie BBQ moving from Concorde up the marina and closer to the action, to Patterns. With a stacked line up kicking off with Olympia and wrapping up with Sampa The Great, The Aussie BBQ had the basement venue rammed and sweaty from beginning through until the end. Emerging as one of the stand out Australian bands at the festival, quite clearly, was Melbourne’s Gold Class – stepping into the space occupied by Gang of Youths last year. A buzz band who took The Great Escape by the scruff of the neck, Gold Class proved their weight in the obvious.

Gold Class.

Out on the pier at Horatio’s, Confidence Man had a packed venue of their own shortly after lunch – another Australian act emerging to the top of the pile with their unrelenting energy and effortless charm.

Elsewhere, Aldous Harding led an impressive New Zealand showcase on Friday afternoon, celebrating the release of her new album Party with a commanding performance at One Church that had the crowd rendered silent. With Kane Strang and Delaney Davidson also on the bill, the NZ showcase was packed with charm, strength and talent that proved to be unmatched for much of the rest of the afternoon’s program.

There seemed to be a higher level of attendance at The Great Escape this year, with wristband queues extending further around venues, and capacities being reached earlier each night. A positive for the festival moving forward no doubt, but it will be interesting to see how the curatorial aspect of The Great Escape continues to develop next year, as the spotlight continues to be trained intensely on the coastal festival.

Stay tuned for more coverage from The Great Escape this week, as well as The Aussie BBQ in London, commencing today at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen.